Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, September 4, 2014


As I've written here before (I'm pretty sure), I'm a very habitual creature. I'm not the only one in the neighborhood, by the way. The neighbors' cats drift over in our yard about the same time every day, looking for little critters to kill and deliver to their owners. I see the squirrels busying around. The birds start singing early, then cease with the sunset, at which point other things start making their noises--including one neighbor who likes to sit out late on his front porch and talk, full-voice, till about 10:30. Not a lullaby for me. (Lights off here about 9:30 each night.)

Anyway, I thought it would be fascinating (!) to share with you my early morning routines (with suitable candor and lack thereof, depending).

I get up between 6:30 and 7 now in these post-retirement years. When I was teaching at Western Reserve Academy (2001-2011), I was up at 5:10 (alarm!) and was usually in my classroom by 6, getting ready for the day, etc. No more of that. By the time I'm up now, Joyce has usually left--headed out the the health club (six days a week). A restless sleeper, Joyce routinely leaves our bed sometime during the night to go back to our guest room (i.e., Joyce's Annex), where she sleeps lightly and thinks about her writing as the night softens into dawn.

When I first get up, I head downstairs, where I unload the dishwasher, remove one of my homemade scones from the freezer, wrap it in a paper towel, and set it aside for some microwavery later. I lay beside it a mega-calcium pill (necessary, twice daily, because of the Lupron coursing through my system). I turn on my computer, make sure the clocks are set (we have three old clocks--including a cuckoo that belonged to my great-grandfather), then head back upstairs, where I make the bed (sometimes, when Joyce is a little later leaving the house--like today--I discover that she has already made it--an early-morning pleasantness).

Then it's shower time ... you get no details, and I'm certain as I can be that you're glad about that.

After I dress, I head downstairs, where I update my bank accounts on Quicken (a program I've been using since it was in its DOS infancy), begin the day's journal entry (I've been keeping a journal, daily, since I retired from Harmon Middle School in January 1997), open Facebook and paste in the Daily Doggerel and other nonsense I've written the day before; I check Writer's Almanac online to see if there's anything I'd like to share on FB. There often is.

Now here's the part that's a little weird, creepy, OCD: I do not read any email or FB posts or messages. I save those for later ... as you'll see.

Computer jobs done, I go to the kitchen, zap my scone, put it in my backpack, and walk over to Open Door Coffee Co., where I find "my" table (usually). Before I go to the counter, I turn on my Kindle Fire so that when I return with my coffee, it has already connected with the Wi-Fi and has downloaded today's New York Times. I read the Times stories, sharing on FB ones that I find particularly interesting; then I read my email (post-retirement, I've discovered that about 99.99999999% of it is commercial or spam), and then I read the FB posts from my friends, the messages, the comments. It's always in this order: Times, email, FB. No exceptions. If I changed, I'm certain the world would implode.

Once those tasks are done, I begin reading my daily Kirkus Reviews quota (self-imposed)--100 pages--taking careful notes. Then heading home.

Oh, one other creepy, nerdy thing. As I'm walking to Open Door, I mumble the following poems I've memorized--always in this precise order--but only on M-T, Th-Fri. (Other days are days off.)

1. Auden: "Musee des Beaux Arts"
2. Bishop: "Breakfast Song"
3. Booth: "Night Song"
4. Collins: "After I Heard You Were Gone"
5. Crane: "A Man Saw a Ball of Gold in the Sky"
6. Cummings: "maggie and millie and molly and may"
7. Dickinson: "I Heard a Fly Buzz"
8. Dickinson: "A Bird Came down the Walk"
9. Dickinson: "The Going from a World We Know"
10. Dickinson: "The Brain Is Wider Than the Sky"
11. Dickinson: "I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed"
12. Donne: "The Flea"
13. Frost: "Fire and Ice"
14. Frost: "Acquainted with the Night"
15. Hardy: "When Dead"
16. Housman: "When I Was One-and-Twenty"
17. Hughes: "Mother to Son"
18. Jonson: "On My First Son"
19. Matthews: "Misgiving"
20. Masefield: "Sea Fever"

By this point, I'm usually in "my" chair doing what I told you above.  After I finish my reading, I mumble the following before heading for home:

1. Millay: "I shall forget you presently"
2. Poe: "To Helen"
3. Ransom: "Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter"
4. Ryan: "Spiderweb"
5. Starbuck: "A Gift"
6. Shakespeare: "Our revels now are ended"
7. Shakespeare: "When in the chronicle of wasted time"
8. Shakespeare: "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought"
9. Shakespeare: "How like a winter hath my absence been"
10. Shakespeare: "O, what a rogue and peasant slave"
11. Shakespeare: "I will tell you why ... so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery"
12. Shakespeare: "Tis now the very witching time of night"
13. Shakespeare: "There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow"

Now it's time to leave. On the way home, I mumble these:

1. Stevenson: "Requiem"
2. Tennyson: "Crossing the Bar"
3. Tennyson: "The Charge of the Light Brigade"
4. Thomas: "In My Craft or Sullen Art"
5. Thomas: "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"
6. Whitman: "O Captain! My Captain!"
7. Wilbur: "Ecclesiastes 11:1"
8. Wordsworth: "My Heart Leaps Up"
9. Wordsworth: "The World Is Too Much With Us"
10. Yeats: "Oil and Blood"
11. Yeats: "When You Are Old"
12. Yeats: "The Second Coming"

By the time I hit "The Second Coming," I'm on the front porch, where I pick up the newspapers, head into the house, go upstairs to chat with Joyce a little ... and thus continue my nerdy day ...

Maybe I'll write about the psychopathology of all of this another time?

our cuckoo clock,
once belonging to my

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